My New Year's Resolution

Filed under: Opinions

I resolve to ... Illustration by Dori Hartley


'Tis the season for everyone to be a pain in the ass, especially Mommy and Dan Fogelberg.

This single mommy is particularly Grinchy the week before the New Year. It is a dangerous period: The Muzak version of Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne" is everywhere.

A divorcee has to tread lightly and keep her wits about her at all times. She must avoid lingering at the post-holiday sale bra rack at JCPenney. The new underwire can wait, lest The Fogelberg strikes, and all forward progress be lost.

Deadlines are especially tricky to manage during the holidays, when the girls are home from school. I can't afford child care this week, so my creatures wander the house listlessly, poking at each other with invisible sticks, hissing at each other like deranged Komodo dragons, and generally competing for the title of Who Can Be the Most Irritating. So far, it's a tie.

"I'm bored," whines Daughter #2.

"I got you a kitten," I say. "GO LOVE IT."

"I did that already." She flops on my bed, nearly knocking my laptop on the floor. "And he just pooped. He smells. This is boooooooring."

"This is vacation. You have 400 toys and books and shows. And a thing called imagination. Children are starving in Ethiopia. Or India. Somewhere, children are too hungry to have a good imagination."

She squints at me. "Whaaat?"

"Mommy has to work. You are fortunate. GO FORTH AND PROSPER." I am yelling.

I go back to typing. She sighs tragically, and slowly points one ballerina toe at the ceiling. She busts out a line from a Scissor Sisters song: "'We're gonna take your mama out tonight, get her jeeped up on some cheap champagne.'"

I stop typing. "Jacked up. Not jeeped up."

She resumes. "'Jacked up on some cheap champaaagne.' What are they doing to their mama?"

Her older sister slumps into the room. The girls exchange spectacularly fierce Komodo dragon looks for absolutely no reason, then resume their bored sighing in unison. They kick stockinged feet at each other, aiming for shins.

Now it is my turn to growl like a possessed reptile. I feel a whine coming on. Not the nice red variety. That will come later.

"GIRLS," I bark. "I have a deadline."

They hate this word. "Deadline" equals "Mommy is dead to us."

It is not a blast, being the offspring of a single freelance-writer mama. Mommy is either anxious because there is no work, or anxious because there is.

"What's this one about?" asks Daughter #1.

"I have to write a piece about my New Year's resolutions."

"How about being less tense?" Daughter #1 suggests. "That's a good one."

"Yes," I concede. "Good one. Now, go stare at some TV so Mommy can work on that resolution."

They stalk off, grumbling.

Less tense. I realize that is exactly what I want for 2011. I hate being Tense Mommy, and yet I find myself there again and again. I'd like to care less, be more relaxed, let things slide, be more fun, find balance. But how does a single mama manage that, exactly?

Let me get back to you on that one. I have a little jeeping up to do on New Year's Eve first.

Happy 2011, all.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.